Despite everything, the Caribbean's most impressive island offers one of the world's great travel experiences, from its music and culture to Havana and its other cities, as well as beaches and nature.

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The colonial (and beachy) charms of Trinidad

When I started visiting one of Cuba’s earliest settlements (founded in 1514), down in the central south coast some five or so hours from Havana, in the late 1990s, Trinidad was a sleepy little colonial gem in the rough – as in, fairly shabby like most other Cuban towns, seemingly trapped in amber, even smaller feeling than its population of a little over 70,000. The colonial quarter was all about cobblestone streets lined with those retro old U.S. cars parked in front of low-slung,…

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Welcome to Santiago de Cuba, the country's second city

When it comes to cities in Cuba, capital Havana does hog a disproportionate share of the attention – and it’s not hard to understand why. But at the southeastern tip of this island country, 540 miles (870 kilometres) from the capital, is another which amply deserves to be part of any visit to Cuba. One of the first of many settlements in the Americas to be named after mother country Spain’s revered pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela, the bayside port of Santiago de Cuba is this country’s…

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Cuban salsa/old cars cited in 'Romantic Valentine's Day Activities In/Near 26 Iberia Destinations'

Sure, going out for an intimate dinner à deux is pretty much everyone's default on this day for lovers. But to make Valentine's Day extra special, seek out an experience that will make it truly memorable for years to come. High and low, on land and water, laid-back and high-adrenaline; simple and elaborate; cheap and pricey - there's something here for every couple! read post

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  • Well, the Biden Administration finally just got around to lifting the restrictions the previous régime had imposed on travel of U.S. citizens to Cuba. All well and good, but one of the outstanding questions remaining, though, is how quickly tour operators and cruise lines in particular will jump back into the market, given how abruptly the rug was pulled out from under them in 2019 - and given the prospect that another right-winger may well occupy the White House in a mere 2½ years:
    Travel To Cuba Just Got Easier, As U.S. Lifts Trump-Era Flight Restrictions
    The Biden administration wants to ease open the door for leisure travelers. But there will still be plenty of restrictions in place.
  • Well, the big Cuba reveal today looks like pretty weak tea. The main restrictions seem to be tightening categories of Americans ‘legally’ allowed to visit; shifting travel more from FIT to groups; and no spending at hotels/restaurants connected with companies owned by Cuban military. Which is A. basically unenforceable, and B. will be sidestepped by Castro régime with some fancy administrative footwork.

  • This NYT piece that just came out says they might also go back to applying for specific licenses instead of the more blanket ones allowed right now. But even if that's the case...

    "Still, travel to Cuba before the countries restored relations was easier than many people think, Cuba travel experts noted. It may become a question of doing more homework to make sure your purpose for travel fits one of the permitted categories."

  • "Once a year" would be a smart face-saving decision for Trump. His rank-and-file followers would be happy to slam the door; his corporate contributors would howl if he seriously cut ties. He'll certainly retract the right to important rum and cigars, which is a shame, but God knows, it's not as bad as returning to pre-tourism days.  Anil, a good compromise between the difficulties of FIT and the bubble of a group would be to contact one of the tour operators that use their know-how to plan an FIT trip for you. For example, Friendly Planet.

  • We'll have to see what the word is later this week when this new White House crew announces what it has planned for US-Cuba travel. My friend Christopher Baker says the rumor is that travel will be limited to once a year - which wouldn't be so bad. In any case, it will still be pretty easy to travel through third cities like Mexico City, Montego Bay, Cancun, Santo Domingo, etc.

  • I am gonna do it. Let's see what happens. Maybe it will be too late by the time I get all things done.

  • I dunno, Anil, when we were there in January, the place was packed with USA types. I think FIT travel to Cuba is now easier for the average person than it's been since 1959. Give it a shot - what's holding you back? Agent Orange might soon try to clamp down, then things would in fact get more difficult.

  • Two years later.....

    It still is not easy for a non-journalist, or a doctor, or researcher/educationist to visit Cuba independently without fuss. So many US airlines have been given route-pairs, yet I find myself excluded from the party :( Things won't get better with twitter-in-chief !

    Oh well ! It is good to Rant. Thanks for your patience.

  • Happy to hear it, Anil. Best regards, as always.

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